Young Woman’s Suspicious Death Triggers Rare Protests in Beijing
By Oiwan Lam from Global Voices
Thousands of people took to the streets in Beijing on May 8, 2013, in response to the suspicious death of a young migrant worker named Yuan Liya. Currently, all information regarding the death of Yuan Liya is unsearchable online in China.
The 22-year-old woman’s body was found lying outside Wenjing Shopping Mall around midnight on May 3. Yuan had come to Beijing to find work to support her family in Anhui. Both Yuan’s boyfriend and mother have demanded the Beijing police release the CCTV recording of Yuan’s death. However, the Beijing police claim that the case was a suicide and refuse any further investigation.
Among the thousands of protesters, most are migrants from Anhui province who work in Beijing. Below is a citizen video showing the protest scene:
A post titled “The Mysterious Death of a Girl in Wenjing” circulated on online forums on May 7 but was quickly deleted by internet censors. According to House News [zh], which is based in Hong Kong, the post said Yuan was in a room with many men before her body was found outside of the shopping mall on the pavement beneath the room. Most of the original posts have been deleted. Below is a cached version of a discussion of the original post in an online Baidu forum [zh]:
“Fish Out Of Water”: The hearsay is that the security guards did it. Some of them escaped and one surrendered himself to the police. The truth should come out soon. But the police might have been bribed and there are no reporters following up the case. They were afraid of revenge…
“I Can’t Wait Til Spring” : When will be able to treasure human life as it is? A life is worth nothing if it does not belong to someone wealthy and powerful?
“Sun 67799″: We have to dig out all the facts. According to the description of the post, even if the girl jumped out from that window by herself, she was murdered (because she was trying to escape from rape).
“Powerful Words”: [They] should disclose who are the men in that room. I believe netizens could dig out the truth.
“Shame On You”: The girl is dead and you still want to cover the truth. What kind of world do we live in now? We live in the world of Les Miserables.
In response to the protest, the Beijing police explained their investigation on Sina Weibo [jpg, zh]:
Upon investigation, interviews and reviewing the CCTVs around the death scene, the person [Yuan] entered the shopping mall alone on the evening of May 2 and fell from the mall at round 5 a.m. the next day. We have not see any evidence that she was in contact with others. There is nothing suspicious about the death scene and the dead body. Currently the police are still carrying out their duty.
But the police update did not earn people’s trust. Microbloggers raised many questions in the comment section [zh]:
“Winxutu”: If the hearsay that [the shopping mall] has a powerful background is true, and as the instrument of the government, you are afraid of such background, what kind of background can touch the police? What the f**k!
“Building A Stage”: The hearsay is that the girl had been raped by five security guards. The police gave up the investigation because the boss behind Wenjing has very powerful background. The body has been cremated without investigation. The girl’s boyfriend asked the police for CCTV records; the police said he was not a direct relative. The mother asked for the CCTV; they said the case would not be investigated because it was a suicide. Such a big incident and not a single media outlet reported on it. The Chinese microblogs have filtered all the keywords related to the case. This is so corrupted. Now that hundreds of people are protesting you send the helicopters.
小姐你节扌喿掉了：为发现可以现象？？？￼案件八大疑点疑点一：死者并无自杀的任何预兆和理由。通过和她来往的朋友了解到，她5月2号在大红门早市下班后都很正常，下午一点发给男友的微信也很正常，跟男友感情一直很好，没有理由要自杀; 疑点二：死者为何要在京温市场内部待上整整一夜后再跳楼? [...]
“Virginity Lost”: Nothing suspicious found? There are eight suspicious spots. First: There is no sign and reason for her suicide. According to her friends, she looked normal when she left for the shopping mall on May 2 and the message she sent to her boyfriend at around 1 p.m. was normal. Her relation with her boyfriend was very stable. There is no reason for her to commit suicide. Second: Why did she stay in the Wenjing shopping mall for one whole night before she jumped down? …
“You Yizhizhu”: A few questions: 1. Her family insisted she was raped and killed; the police said she had not been in contact with anyone. 2. The police said they had CCTVs as evidence. How come the family could not get access to the videos? 3. If there is nothing suspicious, how come so many people are protesting in the street and the armed police and helicopters were sent to the protest scene? 4. Why have all the discussions been deleted and censored online?
ashenyi：公开信息 把一切放在阳光下 才能取信于人民！
“Ashenyi”: Disclose all the information under the sun to earn people’s trust!
“Youyouziluo”: Solution: 1. Disclose the CCTV footage to a number of citizen media outlets and the victim’s family; 2. Let the family and media monitor the autopsy; 3. The conclusion should not be made until all the reports come out. The kind of conclusion that aims to pacify people will instigate more anger.
“120TC”: If it is suicide, why is all the information and discussion censored and blocked?
This morning the Beijing Police published another official micro-blog saying that all evidences show that Yuan’s death was caused by her jumping down from the building and the family has not disputed against the police report. Yet, netizens are very quick to highlight the strange wording of the police post:
“Chen Ming”: “Death caused by autonomous-falling from high rise” is this a legal term or criminal investigation jargon? What is its exact meaning? Any related reference or law that we can look into?